According to their website, "WorldCat is the world's largest network of library content and services. WorldCat libraries are dedicated to providing access to their resources on the Web, where most people start their search for information. ... WorldCat.org lets you search the collections of libraries in your community and thousands more around the world."
What this means is WorldCat is an excellent database to use when you need a thorough overview of a topic, or when you're looking for something very specific that you haven't found in other databases. There are millions of records in WorldCat, and is one of our few database that has a wealth of resources in other languages.
Probably best used for books (rather than articles), WorldCat basically collects the catalogs of libraries all over the world and collates their holdings with each other. Because articles are usually housed in separate journals/databases/websites, they aren't nearly as thoroughly cataloged, which means that they are more difficult to find in WorldCat than in another database (like Academic Search Premier, or ProQuest Central).
You may notice that in our list of databases, there are 2 WorldCat entries - WorldCat Discovery, and WorldCat FirstSearch. This tutorial will only look at WorldCat Discovery, but it's good to know a few things about the differences between the two, in case you're having a hard time finding what you need in one or the other.
So what's the difference?
First and foremost, they look very different. FirstSearch is meant to be used by experienced researchers (like faculty and librarians) who need to curate their results in very specific ways beyond just using the normal Advanced Search function. This ability makes FirstSearch a little more difficult to use, and less friendly to folks who are new to research or don't trust their technology skills.
In terms of materials, both have similar content - they have the same book catalogs and some of the same databases. In addition to those, WorldCat Discovery also will search "central index of e-content collections + > 200 million article records in WorldCat.org" (according to the link below). So you're more likely to find electronic resources with WorldCat Discovery, even though both are well-known for finding books and other print resources.
Ultimately, the choice of Discovery and FirstSearch is up to you. Use whichever one feels right to you. OCLC (the publisher) has committed to retaining both for the near future for a number of reasons, so you're also welcome to switch up your choice.
Because WorldCat FirstSearch is older and more difficult to use, we will only be exploring WorldCat Discovery in this guide, but feel free to reach out to a librarian if you are in WorldCat FirstSearch and need help!
You will automatically be brought to the Basic Searching page if you get to WorldCat Discovery from anywhere on our websites or directly through WorldCat.org. If you're just looking to browse items on your topic without much concern for specificity, you may want to use the Basic Search function. The Basic Search page looks like this:
In advanced searching, you are given more ability to pinpoint exactly the kinds of books and articles you would like to see in your results. To get to Advanced Searching from Basic Searching, click on the "Advanced Search" link beneath the basic search box (directly below the magnifying glass). Your screen will then look like this:
Once you click the search button, you will get a list of resources, which will look like the image below:
From here, you can:
If you click on an item to see more information, you'll get a page that looks like this:
In this view, you can view description, explore editions and formats, and check availability by using the drop down menus on the right half of the page.
You will also see a replication of the Title, Author, Source Type and Journal information (if the source is a journal article) at the top of the right side of the page.
If you click "View Description" you'll see all kinds of detailed information about your resource:
From this screen you can:
When looking for full articles or books in WorldCat, always look for either the "Held by Saint Anselm College Geisel Library" link or the "Submit an ILL Request", which look like this:
So when in doubt, look for either of these and you'll get your resource. There are a few ways to get the full article you are looking for, and a few different screens you can do it from.
From the search results page, you can see if the item is held by Geisel Library. Items held by us automatically come to the top of your search results, but to determine if we have it already or not, look for the "Held by Saint Anselm College Geisel Library" link, which you can see in the screenshot below.
Click on that link and WorldCat will redirect you to the page in our catalog for a book, or a results page in the database for an article.
If we do NOT have the item, you'll see text that says "Held by other libraries worldwide". You'll have to click on the title in the result list to order it through ILL.
You can also find if we have the item in our collections from the full description page. If we do have it, the same "Held by Saint Anselm College Geisel Library" links will still be there - in addition to it's location in our stacks if you scroll down the description half of the page to "Check Availability":
If we don't have the book/article you're looking for, after you click on the title of the resource you want to look at, there will be a teal button underneath "Check Availability" that says "Submit an ILL Request" which will direct you directly to ILLiad (see more below).
For articles found in WorldCat, you can also use that same "Submit an ILL Request" button, but it might be worth clicking on the "Check for Full-Text" link right above it (see screenshot below). This will bring you to WebBridge.
WebBridge is an application we use here in Geisel Library when articles are not available in full text in the database you searched. This means we either have access to said article in another database, we have it in print in the library, or we don't have access to it at all and you'll have to use Interlibrary Loan to get it.
When you click on the WebBridge link, one of three things will be displayed.
Your screen will look like this:
To see the full text of this article, simply click on the link to one of the databases shown, and you will automatically be taken to the article in full in that database.
Your screen will look like this:
Click on the "Check here for Location" link provided, and you'll be brought to the library catalog, where you can see where in the building the title you're looking for lives, and what volumes (if it's a journal article) we own. That page will look like this:
You will have to come into the library itself to retrieve these items. If you can't find what you're looking for, feel free to ask someone at the Reference or Periodicals Desk for help. We're happy to assist!
Fear not! You can still get said article! Your screen will look like this:
If this is your screen, simply click on the "Geisel Library Interlibrary Loan (ILL)" link. You will be redirected automatically to a login page for ILL, which will look like this:
Type in your SAC Username (the first half of your email address, before the @), and then your password is your student ID number (including the beginning letter, probably an S). Once you login, WebBridge will fill in all the information you need about the article, so you will be shown a screen that looks like this:
Simply click the "Submit Request" button at the bottom of the screen (you may have to scroll down), and you're all set! You should receive an email from our Interlibrary Loan Office that explains where you can retrieve your article when it is available. If you have any other questions about Interlibrary Loan, feel free to look through our ILL page, or you can contact the ILL Office directly.
To cite an article, click the button that says "Cite" in the top right corner of the detailed information screen, and a box will appear on your page that looks like this:
Choose your citation style from the dropdown menu in the middle right. The box will automatically refresh after you choose an option to display the correct format.
Highlight the citation with your cursor, then copy and paste into your document.
Or, if you use citation managers, you can export this information by clicking on one of the links on the left side of the box.
NOTE: Double check the citation to make sure the information and formatting is correct!!! Our databases pull information automatically from places it thinks the information should be and may not be able to format it correctly. Always always check the citation given to you by the database against the regulations given in the respective handbook for your citation style.
If you have any questions about citing sources, you can check out our Research Guide on the topic.